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Zillowing Out

A $680,000 Home Where We Can Become Woodland Spirits

Chris Thompson/Defector

There are a million ways to have your heart broken, and they all feel the same. It’s an ache, first, and then more, a heaviness that fills your limbs with concrete and slows you down. It feels best to lie on the floor, where the earth can support all that lead in your body. It’s not your fault. Hope is an emotion that evaporates you and makes you light. It’s not fair that when you lose it, you’re left in your same body in your same life, but it feels worse. Oftentimes, heartbreak is sudden, unexpected, and cruel. But the worst kind of heartbreak is the kind you see coming from a mile away, headlights bearing down on you, and you know better, but you step directly into its path for that one bright moment of blissful hope before the crush.

It is easy for me to write about houses that I hate because there are no oncoming cars. I stand safely at a distance and point at ugly things. I am not asked to make any kind of emotional investment and therefore I will not be hurt. It is also funnier: easy to make jokes without stakes.

One thing that I love about this column is that no matter how insane of a house I choose, or how dilapidated it is, or how many weird and strange decisions have been made in its construction or decoration, one of you always loves it. Every single time, a match can be made between someone and a house I don’t and can’t understand. Often, I don’t understand it. My decisions, to me, are always reasonable. The houses I hate most of you hate. Many of the houses I love I know most of you will love. They are nice people with good smiles and quick laughs who ask you questions and get you another beer without asking. There is no hint of fuckboy to them. Perhaps, you don’t love some of them, but you will like them well enough.

But this week, I have made a mistake, and fallen where I should not have. It is a house I objectively know has problems, but I refuse to observe them. To me, this weird and strange house is perfect. I know it won’t be for all of you, but maybe you will understand why I must risk the pain for something I can never have. At least, I will try to explain it.

This week’s house is listed for $679,000 in Woodstock, New York. It has three bedrooms, two baths, and over 3,300 square feet! It was designed by Hillary Harris, an American filmmaker who was a pioneer in time-lapse photography. I don’t know anything about her, but now that I am in love with her house, I will be forced to learn everything. According to the listing, it is called the “Curved Space,” and I would make so many terrible choices to have it.

Here is the entrance:

Screenshot: Zillow

Generally, my favorite kind of entrance is one with a porch, so I am just as surprised by this strange little tucked-away door and my infatuation with it as you might be. Already, you can tell that there are some interesting decisions. One wall is made of stone. The other a bulbous plaster painted the color of a stormy sea. If we head inside, we end up here:

Screenshot: Zillow

I have spent at least 45 minutes inside the 3-D virtual tour of this house that you can take on Zillow, and have not been able to figure out what this picture is from. At first, I thought it was the entry way, but it doesn’t seem like it. The front door is single and squared, and here we have one double-square door and one rounded door. But isn’t that plaster at the top lovely, doesn’t it remind you both of a ship and a spaceship? I like that.

One thing I always like in a house is varied textures. Ideally, in my opinion, each room should have a minimum of five different textures. This photo is a perfect example of that: we have wood, glass, plaster, fabric, brass! Add in a single piece of art, and perhaps a rug and this is perfect little space.

Here is the main room.

Screenshot: Zillow

There are two things that I know immediately some of you are not going to like. The first is that this is a dangerous house. It has dozens of little ledges that you could back up off of and fall three feet. I know this is scary, but also look how fun it is to have levels! It rules!

This wooden section around the fire is a little strange to me as it seems to be unfinished plywood. I assume that at some point it was carpet, but imagine how, with a little love, this whole area could be different: the built-in corner section and the curved lower section could become a conversation pit with a little love and imagination! I love a conversation pit!

I also love these long spans of wood and white on the ceiling. Here’s another angle:

Screenshot: Zillow

All right, even I will admit that I do not care for whatever is happening with these tree stumps. Those I would remove. But look at the HEIGHT in here. Look at the light! This picture is so interesting in a non-overwhelming way. Do you feel how your eyes cannot quite focus? How they follow the lines of the house around and around and around, tracking the curved ceiling above the kitchen, to the stairs, down to the stump, back toward you and then up the wall on the left? This is clearly the house of a filmmaker because if you imagine for one second someone standing in the kitchen, or coming down any of the stairs, you can see how the set would frame them to make them stand out, how your eye would go toward the softness of their clothes and hair no matter where they stood.

Let’s go look at the kitchen:

Screenshot: Zillow

One of my favorite kinds of kitchens to see in an older house is one that would be great to cook in but has not been aesthetically updated in 30 years. This kitchen has a perfect triangle to work in between the oven and the fridge and the sink and the island. It has lovely cabinets, and a beautiful Saltillo tile. It also has the kind of fridge that looks like it would be the “beverage fridge” in a rich suburban home. Imagine replacing this fridge with a jadite green Big Chill one (my dream fridge!), and you’re cooking with gas. Except, actually, the stove is electric, so we might as well replace that one, too.

The only thing I don’t like in here is whatever is happening underneath that glass counter, but I’m open minded. It looks like art of some kind, so I would need to see it in person before making any decisions.

Up a few more stairs and we are up here:

Screenshot: Zillow

Do you hear that thumping? It’s me pounding on the table chanting, “LINES LINES LINES!” Because look at all these lines!! The curves of the stair case, the DIVIDED CIRCLE WINDOW, the bit curve of the entrance to the deck. The nice tall lines of the bookshelf! We love it!

Here, stand on the stairs and look:

Screenshot: Zillow

I could cry, it’s so beautiful. The stretch of the bookshelves out toward the window, the majestic grandeur of that giant curve. I would replace these sconces immediately with something a little poppier, maybe a color, or a fun shape, but I would die for the idea of being able to throw a house party here and to come down the stairs and see people snacking at the table, and gabbing in the living room, and getting some air on the patio, a sound system playing softly, everyone chatting and laughing.

I mean. Look at these Dr. Seuss stairs:

Screenshot: Zillow

It’s like a Scandinavian modern tree house!

Look at them!

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. I love them so much. I do not love the plexiglass on the railings, though I accept that this is probably there on account of safety, I think it would maybe be better to risk falling than to clean the fingerprints off of the plexiglass. Down one little staircase is the platform atop the kitchen. Up one is only a little storage closet.

But up the main one is this:

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. I love it. Is it extremely weird and kind of annoying to live inside a big dome that would echo all the time and affords basically no privacy, and also is kind of like a treehouse? Maybe! But it is cool to me and I would like to live there.

Here’s the other view!!!

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. I’m moving in right now. That strange wooden door to the left, if you look at the virtual tour, leads to ANOTHER deck! A higher-up deck! That’s great. I would put a little bar cart up here so I could have a drink outside as a treat. I would love this house with my whole heart even though it is all white and all the walls are curved so there is nowhere to hang art.

Here is the bathroom:

Screenshot: Zillow

Theoretically there are two bathrooms in this house, but I only found this one. Luckily, this is all I need. Based on context clues, that is a very deep bathtub. You would have to climb in there! I would climb in and then never leave. I would love to stay in the tub so deep that the faucet is inside of it. That could be my home.

Plus outside there is this tiny little hut! Look at it! It’s so tiny and round!

Screenshot: Zillow

Here is it’s beautiful door! If this were my house, I would hire someone to tell me how hard it is to make these huts and give them a little bathroom and then I would make six more of them so that all of my buddies could come visit me at one time and have their own little hut. Wouldn’t that be nice? Wouldn’t it be a dream?

Screenshot: Zillow

Wow. Let’s go look at the house from afar now that we’ve walked a bit away!

Screenshot: Zillow

I know this is not a practical house. And I know that it’s specific and strange and not for everyone. But it is for me. I love it with all of my heart, and already someone else is stealing it from me. I have seen the car coming and stepped out into the street. It’s a mistake, but I’m already here, looking up at this domed weirdo, begging it to love me back.

This week’s house has a pending offer and has been listed on Zillow for 7 days at $679,000. If you buy this house, I am available every single day to come and housesit.